Category Archives: book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: YOUR NEXT SHIFT by ELIZABETH SCALA

I first heard of Elizabeth Scala when she joined RN FM Radio. I didn’t know how much I was missing a female voice on the show until she arrived (yay!). I didn’t know she was an author right away. I started following her on social media and that’s when I became aware of the breadth of her nursing activities.

I knew from watching her on Instagram that Elizabeth made fun a priority in her life (I do, too!). I started reading her book yesterday afternoon, and if I hadn’t had an evening commitment, I would have finished it last night. Anyway, it was less than twenty-four hours later that I turned the last page. This book resonated with me on so many levels. The ‘Just for today’ philosophy that I first learned to practice after my Reiki attunements was one of the first moments that I knew I was in the right place reading this book. I love that Elizabeth is so honest in her description of her experience travelling the path of refining and expanding her own nursing practice to help the rest of us know that hey, we aren’t alone! Other nurses feel under-confident and under-brave and under-decisive, too! And this: “Maybe you’re just not that happy being a nurse anymore because you actually feel like your job doesn’t let you be one!” Hello? That was one of my first “Aha!” moments after transitioning from nursing practice in school and nursing practice in real life.

For years, I have been working on integrating my spiritual practices into my nursing practice and in this book, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit, another nurse who really gets it. Another nurse who is doing this, too.

I also love the quotes that were scattered throughout the book, including Susan Jeffers’ “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” a phrase that I find myself saying over and over these days, mostly to myself.

While I was reading Your Next Shift, I felt like I was having coffee with my nurse-BFF.

One note to the author: as a former waitress, I found a LOT of similarities between waitressing and nursing! Just sayin’.

After I finished reading it, I decided to draw an oracle card for the book, and I drew the 3 of Earth from Colette Baron-Reid’s new card deck, The Good Tarot.  Here is a quick line about this card from the guidebook that accompanies the deck: “Teachers and students, we are all learning, growing, and building collaboratively.”

I know, right?! 🙂

I highly recommend Your Next Shift for anyone. Read it.

BOOK REVIEW: This Life I Live by Rory Feek

I didn’t want to read this book.  I first heard about it when I came across an article in a magazine–some Woman’s Day-y type of publication, I think. I read some of the article, thought, “Oh, this is a sad story,” and put it down.

Well, it found me again.

Have you ever noticed how the books you are supposed to read have a way of doing that?

Joey and Rory are famous, but before that magazine article, I had never heard of them. I have since listened to some of their music and it’s beautiful (spoiler alert, this song is heartbreaking), in case you want to check it out.

Anyway, there is a lot of wisdom in this book. Parts of his story parallel my own, and probably your own as well. I relate to Rory talking about his childhood of being from “everywhere and nowhere” and about how “there are different levels of poor”. Moving so often in your growing up years isn’t easy. It certainly can begin to define who you are.

When Rory’s mom goes back to school in her 60’s, she ‘does the thing she thought she could not do’.  This resonated so strongly for me, recalling one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. It also speaks to one of the themes in this book, brave women, and the author’s respect for them.

My favorite quote from this book is:

“True joy and happiness have a way of attracting good things into your life.” (p 81)

So, I was right. It is a sad story, but it’s also a happy one. Rory tells it with raw honesty, but also with faith and hope. As anyone who has ever written (or tried to write) their life story can attest, this is no easy task. Rory has accomplished it with grace and love.

Read this book.

BOOK REVIEW: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I have heard of Ann Patchett before, of course, but I had never read any of her work. Full disclosure: I did try to read Bel Canto once. I have no idea why I didn’t actually finish it. Or start it. I forget.

happymarriageAnyway, my friend and yoga teacher, Kristen, mentioned a book casually in conversation a couple of weeks ago. “Um, I think it’s called A Happy Marriage,” she said. Sometime later that day, because the title was still with me, I decided to look it up. I found This is the Story of a Happy Marriage on audiobook and requested it from the library. Shockingly, it came right away.

I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nothing about the book other than that my friend, whose taste in books is usually a 180 from my own, liked it (e.g.: my expectations were low). But surprise! I loved it right away! I love when authors who are good at it read their own work. Ann (as she tells us in her book), is good at it. The next happy surprise was that she talks about writing and being an author (among other things) in this book. She describes how, early in her career, she used to think ahead to all those rows of empty chairs waiting at her upcoming book talks, knowing that there was a good chance none of them would be filled.

I could, you know, relate.

As I listened to parts of this book, I realized that Ann got it. She gets it. She knows exactly how it feels to be me right now, with my first book that quite possibly ‘no one wants to talk about’ when they come to the book signings. But I go anyway. I get up early. Sometimes, I drive for hours. I am ‘really nice’ to the staff. I remember to drink gallons of water to avoid dehydration. These are all rules that Ann follows at her own book signing events.

So thank you, Ann Patchett, for reminding me that everyone has to start somewhere and at one time in your career as an author, you were exactly where I am right now.

The power of one

I have been giving a lot of talks at local libraries. For my most recent one, I personally invited and Facebook invited a lot of people.

yorklibraryphoto2

A lot.

Plus, it was a full moon in Gemini (my sign)! At 7:05pm! And my talk started at 7:00PM!

I know this is a busy time of year for us all, but I was expecting at least 10 people or so.

When it 6:59pm and still no one had come, I began to consider that maybe I had saturated my geographic location.

If no one came (as I have heard sometimes happens, but thankfully had never happened to me), my Plan B was to have my husband make a video of me reading so I could post it on my YouTube Channel (still evolving–don’t judge it). At least this would be time well spent, right?

What I learned: Don’t accept a time slot that starts when the library is CLOSED. Duh. I’m not sure why they even did that… oh, wait. Yes, I do. I took the slot because I was hoping to sell a lot of books before Christmas, and this was the only December slot they had. They had one slot available in January, but I thought people might not come out in the cold when they weren’t possibly out already, shopping for the holidays (books make great gifts!). Note: the temperature was in the 20’s last night.

And then, at 7:05pm, one person came into the room.

My audience had arrived. She probably didn’t really feel like going out, but she wanted to support a fellow writer/author, and guess what?

SHE DID.

Thank you again, Katherine. ❤

For some reason, this song was in my head on my way home from the event, so I am including it here for your listening pleasure:

BOOK REVIEW: The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence

I just finished reading The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence. All I can say is, YAY!

the-alchemists-daughterMary’s book is a work of historical fiction, so if you’re into that, you’ll love it. Not a historical fiction fan? Don’t limit yourself! Read it anyway. You’ll still love it! Right from the beginning, you will feel like you’re in London in the 1500’s. The language itself helps to immerse you in the story.

One thing I love is when I’m reading a book and I have to–no, wait; I get to–go grab a dictionary because I’ve stumbled upon an unfamiliar word. Wherry? Kirtle? Bring it! I know these words now!

Bianca, the main character, is fascinated by the metaphysical, and so am I, so I fell in love with her right away. She is also brave, which is something I aspire to be in my own life, and this kept me rooting for her in her bleaker moments. Bianca always wants to know the truth in any situation, even it if will make her own life more difficult.

My favorite part of the book (page 123): I love when Bianca is in her rent (another cool word!) by the fire, reviewing and assimilating all her thoughts, feelings, and impressions from recent events, allowing her intuition to fuse them all together and distill them into an explanation for what has happened.

Best quote from the book (page 126): “The only thing that could possess such a man to be out on a night like this was money. Though sometimes love could. But mostly money.”

If you are squeamish like me, and rats are the stuff your nightmares are made of, here’s a helpful hint: read the rat parts quickly.

Fun fact: one of the characters in the book, Meddybemps, is named after a town in Maine!  See what you can learn at an author talk?
If you are local: Mary Lawrence will be signing her books at Books-a-Million in South Portland, Maine tomorrow at 2pm. Maybe you should go!bam-mary-lawrence

BOOK REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I read this book at the recommendation of a young lady, Angie, who visited my author table at the Kennebunk Community Market one Saturday.
everything-everythingShe told me that Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was her favorite book. This book says it’s recommended for readers aged 12-17, but I object to narrowing the audience for this book. Anyone of any age could enjoy reading this.

The main character, Maddy, is physically isolated in a way few teenagers are. She is a prisoner on so many levels. This book is not predictable, however. There are surprises to keep your interest.

I had a problem with the nurse, Carla, whom I loved, but she compromised her professional ethics, therefore (in my opinion as a nurse) she deserved what she got.

But it still made me sad. I also didn’t like how the author portrays the other nurse in the book. Don’t even get me started. People! Don’t believe most of the characterizations of nurses you read in books!

Maddy is very lovable until she starts lying to everyone (including herself?) which made me like her much less. Is it acceptable to lie when you believe you are running for your life? I’m not sure. Read it and make up your own mind.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I am in the world and, too, the world is in me.” -Maddy

“Empty tummy, empty head.” -Carla.

“Be brave. Remember, life is a gift. Live it.” Carla the nurse to Maddy, Disc 3 track 13 on the audio book.

Bottom line: worth reading.

I caved

Okay, fine; so I caved.

rosesWhen I first published my book, I was cocky. I did it! I wrote it! I put it out there and let other people read it!

Guess what? Other people have opinions. Some of which I don’t like.

Especially about the F word. Does an F word by any other name smell as sweet? Apparently not. Some people didn’t like it that I used poetic license and my self-proclaimed abilities as a wordsmith to come up with a spelling that I liked best for one particular F word. One person, of note because (s)he was the only negative review I received for my book on Amazon, decided to review it without actually reading it because of this.

That was back in March.

Fast forward to now, September. Another person declined to read my book because I used another F word. After consulting with the great literary minds in my household, I made the executive decision to change the spelling of one of the F words under dispute to the one in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (full disclosure: the online one) instead of the one in the Urban Dictionary.

So, now if someone doesn’t like it, they can bitch to them.

The other F word though, that’s trickier. I don’t think there is more than one way to spell f*&k.

So f*&k it.